The epic saga of the Rio Olympic golf course appears finally to have been settled this week, after a judge blocked a request by public prosecutors to stop construction of the course over alleged breaches of environmental restrictions.
Prosecutors claimed that the course, being built on a nature reserve to the west of Rio, had infringed on the environmental permits granted by the city, and demanded that a corridor of around 400 metres width be provided for wildlife on the site. This, according to one source who spoke anonymously to GCA, would have been “game over” for the golf course.
But Judge Eduardo Antonio Klausner rejected the application, saying in his judgement that prosecutors had brought forth “no new fact justifying... a halt in the implementation of the golf course for the Olympics”.
Delays have afflicted the course’s construction all through the process. Architect Gil Hanse committed to move his family to Rio for the duration of the build as part of his bid for the job, but was obliged to leave the city with construction still only in very early stages because of the delays. The installation of the course’s irrigation system added further delays, but for much of 2014, the irrigation crew has been moving across the site, with grassing teams following close behind. Local sources now estimate that construction is around 70 per cent complete, according to Associated Press reporter Tales Azzoni, who has covered the project throughout.
Hanse told GCA: “While we are glad that the judge has ruled in our favour, we feel that this shows our intent from the outset: to protect and clean up the environment of the site as we found it. Years of neglect and wind blown trash was what we found there, and certainly we never would have cut into a rainforest if it had existed. The course, now in its grow-in stage will provide the grounds for golf not just for the Olympics, but the growth for the sport in Brazil in the future.”
The original plan for Olympic golf called for a full-scale test event during the middle of 2015, a year before the Games. This will not now happen, but sources report relief that the course should at least be ready for 2016.